The Consul General at Shanghai (Gauss) to the Secretary of State
[Received August 15—10:45 a.m.]
487. John Williamson, aviation instructor of Commission on Aeronautical Affairs of Chinese Government, has disclosed to me today that he and other aviation instructors, all Americans, are expected to advise and to instruct from the ground in the present conflict between China and Japan. (I have heard that unmarried men may be expected to serve as squadron leaders; but he does not confirm this.)
In reply to his question as to whether this would be in violation of the statutes, I have expressed the personal opinion that it would be so, inasmuch as there is actually an armed conflict approximating a state of war and he would be serving the combatant air forces of one power engaged in conflict with the forces of a power with which the United States is at peace.
In the absence from China of the District Attorney, I have informally consulted Assistant Attorney General Robert H. Jackson, at present in Shanghai, and while of course he has no official status in this jurisdiction he has expressed the opinion that such activity on the part of American citizens who are engaged by the Chinese Government in instructing, advising, and counselling military flying under the present circumstances, brings them squarely within the purview of the statutes.
Williamson says he will be guided by any advice I may give him and if it is as I state it above he will leave China at first opportunity. He asks, however, that his colleagues at Nanking be given same advice as is given him. I will communicate separately to the Embassy at Nanking the names of the Americans there who are concerned.
I request any instructions the Department may see fit to give in this matter.
Repeated to Nanking.